ZAC Stuchbery is flourishing at Hampden league level.
The Portland wingman, who crossed from South West District league club Tyrendarra in the off-season, is thriving as a two-way outside midfielder under Jarrod Holt.
Stuchbery said his stint in the seniors at Tyrendarra held him in good stead for the step up to Hampden league competition.
"It was a bit of a different level. My first game at Portland was a big step up (in standard). I'm gradually, slowly, getting that bit more confident. I'm hopefully slowly matching the speed.
"Just the speed and skill level is just the biggest noticeable difference, I've found. There are a few bigger bodies too.
"Tyrendarra definitely prepared me for the step up."
From a personal perspective the biggest learning has been to hold my position and to back my teammates to get the footy for me.- Zac Stuchbery
Stuchbery, just turned 18, said his wing role suited his natural game.
"Holty's got me out there mopping up the footy and that," he said.
"Personally, I like to run hard in defence but Holty puts an emphasis on us to make sure we're not only working hard forward but also work hard backwards.
"From a personal perspective the biggest learning has been to hold my position and to back my teammates to get the footy for me. (In my role) you've got to back them to win the ball instead of winning it myself."
The apprentice air conditioner mechanic, who works with Portland Air Conditioning, said it'd been exciting to join a youth-filled list at Hanlon Park while learning the ropes from the Tigers' experienced charges.
Portland will be without star ruckman Ben Malcolm for Saturday's clash with Camperdown at home but have drafted Sam Hampshire back to its senior side. Holt expects Hampshire to pinch hit in the ruck while Toby Oakley will shoulder most of the duties.
"Unfortunately Jake Wilson is out at the moment but he's a player with a lot of experience," Stuchbery said.
"It'll be good to get him back. Holty is a very experienced coach and footballer, Daniel Jackson is another one too. Huppo (Lochie Huppatz) is a really good pickup too, to have back.
"I'm pretty lucky to be a part of what we've been able to do so far and I'm pretty keen to see what we can do for the rest of the season."
Stuchbery said the switch to Portland came on the back of a desire to "step up" his footy.
"I honestly didn't expect to play seniors straight away - that was my goal - but a few of my mates moved across to play under 18s and I was pretty keen to go with them," he said.
"It's been good."
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